by Peter Scherer
Mickleover retained their 100 per cent record, with another strong performance on their visit to Leamington FC, returning home 1-0 victors after a late second half winner from Stuart Beavon.
Starting line-up: 1-Oliver Bosworth 2-Jake Bennett 3-Ryan Wilson 4-Will Atkinson 5-Finn Delap 6-Ethan Mann 7-Andy Dales 8-Dan Bradley 9-Andre Wright 10-Ben Sault 11-Marcus Barnes. Subs: Rhys Dolan, Jim Pollard, George Nunn, Stuart Beavon Oli Greaves.
Sault created Sports first chance of the game after four minutes, but he was forced wide by Jack Lane after reaching the penalty area and fired his shot over the roof of the clubhouse.
But only two minutes later a left wing cross had flashed across the six yard box, Bennett was quickest to the loose ball, and swung it back to the far post where Wright dived to head well over the bar.
Barnes then came very close too when he latched onto a high ball forward, chipping Callum Smith, but the Brakes keeper had done enough to put him off after racing off his line, and the ball dropped just wide.
Leamington managed an immediate counter-attack and Adam Walker’s stabbed cross-shot was pushed away by Bosworth for a corner, from which Tyrone Barnett connected well with a low half volley on the edge of the box which Bosworth saved.
The back four of Bennett, Delap, Mann and Wilson were controlling the line well and seemed to be taking any Leamington efforts comfortably in their stride, aiding Atkinson, Bradley, Sault and Dales to push forward. But the hosts were coping with Sports strikes too as we reached the half hour.
Edwards headed well over from another corner when it looked like Barnett was possibly better placed to try for goal, before Barnett exchanged passes with Cally Stewart who sent a powerful volley whistling past the post.
Leamington began to up the tempo a little before half time, and Stewart came close with two minutes left in the first half, his powerful shot from a yard or so out, found Sports defenders on the goal line, but Mickleover were able to clear. The young striker then rose above everybody in a packed penalty area to head a right-wing corner over the bar, as it remained 0-0 at half time,
Greaves came on for Bradley as the second half got underway and it was a strong and attacking start for Mickleover. Benett and Wilson continued to push down the wings, and having had a couple of shots just off target up to the hour mark, Beavon came on for Wright after 68 minutes. He was just inches from immediate success, after Edwards misjudged a header and allowed the Beavon a chance to lift the ball over keeper Smith, but unfortunately it dropped onto the roof of the net.
Mickleover were pushing hard to break the deadlock and came closer still when they pressed dangerously, Beavon forcing a save from the legs of Smith, before Andrew Dales curled the loose ball against the crossbar and over. Dales then miscued another effort wide, but the pressure continued.
Leamington were struggling to get out of their own half at times, and the ball kept coming back at them as Mickleover probed for the opening goal and Sports decided to bring on Nunn for Dales for the last 11 minutes.
Barnes headed over at the far post from Beavon’s left wing cross, before Greaves’ attempted a cross that was palmed onto the bar by Smith after 82 minutes. But when the ball was played back in it was touched back towards goal by Beavon, whose strike finally broke through and it was 1-0.
There was brief late retaliation from Leamington as Henry Landers forced a right corner, but it came to nothing, with several players left in a heap in the box.
In the seven minutes of additional time Landers had another shot deflected behind for a corner, but the Mickleover were relatively untroubled other than a brief penalty shout and eased their way to a deserved three points and a three-point lead at the top of the table.